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Review: AMD XP2500+ Barton 'AQXEA'

by Tarinder Sandhu on 1 September 2003, 00:00


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Another jewel in the enthusiast's crown ?

All those with even a passing interest with respect to consumer-level processors will know that AMD, the champion of the tight of pocket, is about to launch a new breed of processor; one that will come under the heading of Athlon64. As its name suggests, one of its chief advancements will lie with 64-bit computing, yet it will also run present 32-bit applications just fine. Add in, amongst other desirables, an integrated memory controller and more L2 cache; we can see how 64-bit addressing allows one to break free from the shackles currently imposed by the presently used 32-bit CPUs and OS's. True 64-bit software support should highlight the power of AMD's next-generation CPUs.

The release date for this much-anticipated consumer CPU is provisionally September 23. You can also bet your bottom dollar that it will be expensive; new technology always is. AMD isn't doing all that badly at the moment, though. The current Barton range of CPUs, helped a little by the extra 256kb L2 cache over the existing XPs and supporting 200FSB operation (XP3200 only), have kept some kind of parity with Intel's raging 800MHz Hyper Threading-capable P4s. That's thanks in no small part to NVIDIA, for its nForce2 chipset has boosted the appeal of AMD CPUs, especially to enthusiasts who often base a purchasing decision on just how attractive a platform's price-to-performance ratio is.

Overclocking, the art of pushing components past their stated speeds, is one method of enhancing the aforementioned ratio. Some commentators may smirk at users' attempts to gain further performance from parts in their systems, yet on numerous occasions it has been proved that some components take a positive shine to running beyond the speeds stamped upon them. What is specification anyway ?. It's just the speed that a manufacturer is confident the product will run at; nothing more, nothing less. The demand vagaries of the CPU manufacturing world often disguise the true potential of certain processors. The basic premise, then, is to obtain a CPU that's rated at a modest speed but on that has prodigious overclocking potential. How can we do that ?. Let's find out.